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Local News

Ag census reveals major boost in New England farm-production value


New agricultural census data show a significant increase in production value for New England farms over the past five years. There are nearly 31,000 farms and ranches operating in the region – a 5% decline from 2017. But those remaining farms grew their production value by nearly 32% to more than $3.5 billion.

Pam Hird, USDA state statistician, said the growth stems from more than just consolidation or an increase in food prices.

“We’re using new technologies and new methods and learning things from our universities and our extension services. We’re becoming more efficient at farming,” she explained.

Hird added the census finds New England farms ranging in size from one to nine acres suffered the greatest losses and are part of the more than 20 million acres of American farmland lost to development and other factors over the past five years.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the decline in operational farmland “a wakeup call” for America and noted that a majority of America’s farmers still rely on second incomes unrelated to farming to make ends meet. Hird said the census reveals an increasing number of young farmers with less than 10 years of experience are helping sustain the region’s farm sector.

“What we do is very important,” Hird contended. “We’re high on the list for organics. We produce hay and hay forage. We have cattle. We have cut flowers. We have honey and bees. Maple, of course, is very critical.”

While the number of organic farm numbers declined by nine-percent from 2017, the value of organic sales increased slightly. Hird says more than 67% of regional farmers responded to the census, providing critical data that determines farm programs and services, disaster assistance and technology development.

This article is republished from the Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.